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A few small energy-smart changes can add up to a big difference.

With energy costs going up every day, there's never been a better time to start thinking about conservation. Changes don't have to be drastic, either. Every little bit helps, because over time those little things add up to big savings.

Get yourself in hot water.

Water heaters use up to 18% of your total energy bill every month*, which gives you a big opportunity for big savings. The more you do to hold in the heat, the better.

Consider buying a water heater blanket, a simple insulated wrap that goes around your water heater, to reduce lost warmth. Also consider insulating the pipes in your basement that lead to and from your water heater. This preserves warmth on your water's journey to the faucet or showerhead so you can set your faucet at a cooler temperature to stay comfortable.

Insulate yourself against waste.

Is your attic properly insulated? Millions of them aren't. Without adequate insulation, you're making your air conditioner or furnace work harder than it should to keep you comfortable. And you're letting money drift up into the atmosphere. A small investment in proper insulation will help you hold on to every last dollar, while making your home feel better all year long.

Invest in energy-smart comfort.

Even if your home heating and cooling system is only a few years old, advancements in efficiency may make replacing your system a smart move. Air conditioners like the Lennox® XC25 can offer energy efficiency ratings of up to 26 SEER as part of a system. That can save you hundreds of dollars every year.

Likewise, with fossil fuel costs going up, a furnace like the Lennox SLP98V can help save money all winter long, because its AFUE rating of 98.2 means it converts more than 98% of the fuel it burns into useable heat. That's serious efficiency.

Put your comfort on a schedule.

Heating and cooling your home can account for half of your total energy bill. So if your system runs less, the savings will become apparent immediately. One of the ways you can reduce use without sacrificing your perfectly comfortable air is by installing a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats like the ComfortSense® 7500 or iComfort Wi-Fi® can adapt your heating and cooling to your life by running your furnace or air conditioner less often during the hours that nobody is home.

Water coming from a spout, a lightbulb and a water heater

Make a switch with your lighting.

A single light bulb may not seem like much of an energy drain. But when you think about how many rooms you have in your home, and the fact that each room probably uses multiple light bulbs, you can see the opportunity for savings.

It's probably a no-brainer to replace standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving CFL or LED bulbs, but why not take it one step further? Consider putting some of your interior and exterior lights on a timer to limit daily use. You can increase outdoor security by having lights that come on automatically when it's dark, without accidentally leaving them on all day.

Also consider using motion-activated light switches for rooms that see little use. These switches turn the light on when they sense movement, and turn it off again after a few minutes when movement stops. So you'll have light when you need it, but won't risk leaving a light on when you leave the room.

Switch your showerhead.

Every drop of hot water that comes out of your showerhead is a drop that had to be heated in the basement. So it stands to reason that the less water you use in the shower, the more you'll save on your energy and water bills.

Unfortunately, the words "low-flow showerhead" used to be practically synonymous with an unpleasant showering experience. But that's changed. New designs can help you use less water and still enjoy a refreshing shower experience.

*SOURCE: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-water-heating

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